Sunday, 7 September 2014

A weight loss patch?

What is thrive dft (patch).
So recently I came across a people selling this miracle weight loss, feel great patch called 'thrive'. It seemed a bit strange to me, particularly because the person selling it was not exactly saying what it was (this was compounded by the fact that I remember a doctor who episode where some future civilisation got addicted to feel good patches and all subsequently died).
Anyway what is in these patches and are they conceivably good?

So after a bit of digging I found they contain:
forslean: a registered trademark
Green coffee bean extract:  ?caffiene
Garcinia Cambogia: a herb
CoQ10: I see this a lot in skin creams
White Willow Bark: another herbal thing
Cosmoperine: another registered trademark

So are these ingredients good?
Forslean: So firstly forslean is an extract from the Coleus forskohlii plant using their special method. This plant is a herb used in Indian cooking. According the company website sites 3 studies (one study of only 6 people without any blinding, which I am not going to talk about as it is too small and poorly designed so of no consequence), one study of 23 people that showed no weight loss but slightly lower weight gain, and one study of 60 people that showed mild weight loss. I have not been able to ascertain if these studies were done independently. This benefit was found with forslean capsules. I could not find any evidence that this can be absorbed through the skin past the dermal layer (it has been shown that it can cause epidermal thickening and tanning of the skin underneath in mice, not really desirable qualities in a patch). Looking at pubmed and other studies into Forskolin (the main ingredient of Forslean), this is an actual medication with benefits and side effects (ie may benifit glaucoma, interacts with some blood thinning medications, increases stomach acidity).
It is possible that Forslean may help promote weight loss, however I would like to see larger, better designed studies (and in particular studies that can prove it is absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream of humans).

Coenzime q10: one ingredient that has had a lot of press. It has been shown to decrease inflammation particularly in people with heart disease. It was trialled in large doses in people with Parkinson's disease with no benifit (but also no major side effects). I could not find any studies proving that doses applied to the skin can actually get into the blood stream (or how much actually does) did find a report that topical administration may cause vitiligo (skin whitening, what Michael Jackson apparently had) in susceptible individuals.
So this ingredient I would assess as possibly beneficial with minimal side effects, but would like to know if it is actually absorbed.

Green coffee bean extract: on the companies Facebook page they say that 'only the antioxidant benefits' were used. Does this mean there is no caffiene in the extract? Seems a bit counterproductive to me given that the caffiene is the part of green coffee that promotes weight loss....

Willow bark: willow bark is basically asprin (high concentration of salicylates). Asprin is a drug and has been shown to have many benefits (as well as risks). It can defiantly be absorbed transdermal lay, thus this may be the only actual thing you are getting from this patch. I am not sure what the actual dose of asprin you are getting from this patch is and would never consume a medication like asprin without knowing exactly how much I am taking. (I assume actual dose is very, very low to reduce risk of complications, but this sort of negates the point of having it in the first place).

Garcinia Cambogia: a herb that has been shown to promote satiety and weight loss in the short term when taken orally (most studies have been 12 weeks or less so little is known about the long term side effects/ benefits). There is some debate as to weather this compound may cause liver damage (one study in MICE, showed it can cause liver damage, other studies despite this). Could not find any studies into how this was absorbed through the skin. (Although on their Facebook page they state that their "derma fusion technology" means that you get 30-60 times "anything" that you can take orally, I could not actually find any proof of this, ie blood test results following oral and skin exposure).

Cosmoperine: this is a pepper extract that is supposed to increase skin permeability of their other ingredients. The only safety data I could find was found the company website which found no skin irritation in the 48 people tested.

Just because something is natural does not necessarily mean it is safe or effective. Many natural products (even some that are used in foods) are quite dangerous. For example liquorice is a poison in large quantities (and ricin, the worlds most deadly poison is a natural product).
From what I have read thus product is MOST LIKELY safe but probably has minimal benefits. I would like to know exactly how much of the active compounds is actually entering the bloodstream (most importantly how much willow bark there is in the product and how much is absorbed, as thus is actually a drug with significant side effects).
Personally due to the willow bark and the unknown quantities of the other ingredients I would avoid this product. I would especially avoid it if I was pregnant or breastfeeding (I could not find any instances of where these products have been tested on pregnant women and willow bark has blood thinning properties).
If I was convinced by the claims that  Garcinia Cambogia or Coleus forskohlii could promote weight loss (and I think there is reasonable evidence that Garcinia Cambogia may assist in weight loss with minimal side effects, at least in the short term) I would take them as single agents, orally at a specified dose so I know I am getting the right amount of the drug.

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